Coronavirus Does Not Threaten US Blood Supply

(Reuters) – Current guidelines for screening U.S. blood donors for symptoms of COVID-19 and for a history of recent infections are effectively protecting the blood supply from contamination with the new coronavirus, researchers say.

In a study conducted for the National Institutes of Health, researchers tested nearly 18,000 “minipools” of blood samples – that is, blood samples pooled from total of roughly 258,000 donors from across the country.

Only three minipools contained genetic material from the virus, according to a report published in the journal Transfusion. In all three, the viral levels were low. In the one minipool that could be tested for infectivity, the virus material was noninfectious, the researchers said.

“Other studies have shown that in rare cases where a blood sample tested positive, transmission by blood transfusion has not occurred,” coauthor Sonia Bakkour of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement.

“Therefore,” she added, “it appears safe to receive blood as a transfusion recipient and to keep donating blood, without fear of transmitting COVID-19 as long as current screenings are used.”

SOURCE: Transfusion, online May 27, 2021.

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